Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images

VIDEO: Kent State wins on buzzer-beater

1 Comment

When you think MACtion, you think football, sure. But the hoops side of the conference isn’t without its fair share of nuttiness as well.

Look no further than the first round matchup between Kent State and Northern Illinois, which was decided on a buzzer-beating layup for Kevin Zabo of the Golden Flashes.

The gridiron isn’t the only place where the MAC runs wild.

 

Introducing Cinderella: Kent State Golden Flashes are going dancing

Leave a comment

Conference: Mid-American Conference

Coach: Rob Senderoff (Kent State)

Record: 22-14 (10-8 MAC)

Ratings and Rankings:

Kenpom: 146
RPI: 155
AP/USA Today: N/A

Seeding: Kent State went 22-14 on the year. Twelve of those losses came against teams with a RPI of 100 or lower. The Golden Flashes did themselves no favors, and with an RPI of 155 — compared to the RPIs of other one-bid league champions — they might be the lowest-seeded mid-major. NBC Sports latest bracket projection, which had Akron winning the automatic bid, had the Zips slotted as a No. 14 seed. The best they can hope for is that.

Names you need to know: Jimmy Hall, the 6-foot-8 senior forward, is an all-conference first-teamer after averaging a double-double of 18.9 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. He’s really good away from home too. In all but four road games this season, Hall has registered a double-double. Jaylin Walker has had a stellar sophomore season as well, and he’s coming off a 30-point performance in the MAC Tournament title game.

Stats you need to know: Only North Carolina collects more offensive rebounds per game. The Golden Flashes averaged 15 offensive boards per game. Against Akron in the MAC Tournament championship game, Kent State only had five offensive boards, although, no need for second-chance points when you shoot 53 percent from the field.

Big wins, bad losses: The Golden Flashes best win would have to be Texas back in December. But at that point, the Longhorns were 5-6. Kent State has 12 losses against teams with an RPI south of 100.

How’d they get here?: Kent State had to win four games in four days to earn the automatic bid. It started with an overtime win over Central Michigan in a 116-106 shootout with Marcus Keene, the nation’s top scorer. On the following three nights, the Golden Flashes took down Buffalo, Ohio and Akron. All three of those victories were decided by a combined 10 points.

Outlook: The Golden Flashes don’t have the most impressive resume entering the field, but that might have something to do with losing three starters and incorporating a number of transfers this season. While they may be peaking at the right time, is there enough time between know and the start of the first round, whether it be Thursday and Friday, to recover from this physical and emotional run?

How do I know you?: The Elite Eight team from 2002, led by future San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates.

Video: Kent State invites fans to the floor during anthem for unity display

Leave a comment

In a time where divisiveness and protest garner so much attention, Kent State just used its basketball program to advocate for inclusiveness.

The Golden Flashes welcomed fans on to the floor to join them during the national anthem ahead of their game Wednesday against Mississippi Valley State to promote unity and diversity.

“This was not my idea,” Kent State Rob Senderoff told ESPN. “This was something (the players) came up with and brought to me. My first reaction was, ‘What a statement for them to make.’ For a bunch of 18- to 22-year-olds to come up with this is incredibly mature.

“We understand all of the issues going on in our world,” stated sophomore point guard Jalen Avery, on behalf of his teammates. “In these times, we felt it was important to show a sign of unity in our community.”

“The players approached the coaching staff with this idea, and we fully supported them,” said head coach Rob Senderoff. “It takes courage for our players to make a statement like this, and I believe it is a representation of the unity in our campus community.”

Kent State went on to defeat Mississippi Valley State, 93-63, in front of an announced crowd of 2,524.

Semifinal matchups for Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic announced

Leave a comment

While Colorado, Kent State, Penn State and SMU were all guaranteed two home games apiece as part of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic ahead of the semifinals December 22 at the Orleans Arena, the matchups for the semifinals had yet to be announced. That announcement came Friday, with SMU set to take on Kent State in the first game and Colorado playing Penn State in the nightcap.

The third place and championship games will be played the following night.

Of the four teams SMU will enter the 2015-16 season with the highest expectations, with head coach Larry Brown returning a good portion of his rotation from a season ago led by point guard Nic Moore and power forward Markus Kennedy. The Mustangs made their first NCAA tournament appearance in more than two decades last season, winning the American Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles as well.

Colorado returns four starts from last season’s team, but they’ll only have three available due to the ruptured Achilles tendon suffered by forward Xavier Johnson. Forward/center Josh Scott will lead the way for Tad Boyle’s Buffaloes, with players such as Dominique Collier and Wesley Gordon needing to step forward.

Penn State will have to account for the loss of guard D.J. Newbill from last season’s team, and Kent State returns much of its front court from last season including All-MAC forward Jimmy Hall.

SMU, Colorado among eight teams in 2015 Las Vegas Classic

Leave a comment

Thursday afternoon SMU announced that it would be one of the eight teams that will play in the 2015 Las Vegas Classic, with the final rounds of the event scheduled for December 22-23 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

The Mustangs, who made their first NCAA tournament appearance in more than two decades and won the American Athletic Conference regular and postseason titles, return the majority of their rotation from last season led by point guard Nic Moore and forward Markus Kennedy.

The Mustangs will be joined by Colorado, Penn State, Kent State, Canisius, ULM, Nicholls State and Hampton. The Pirates, who knocked off Manhattan before falling to top overall seed Kentucky, are the only other team in the event to reach the NCAA tournament a season ago.

SMU will get two home games in Dallas before the final rounds of the event in Las Vegas, and the same goes for the three other selected “hosts.” Those three teams are Colorado, Penn State and Kent State, with Canisius, ULM, Nicholls State and Hampton serving as the visiting teams in those pre-Las Vegas matchups.

Matchups for those games, as well as the two brackets once the teams get to Las Vegas (SMU, Colorado, Penn State and Kent State form one bracket, with the other four teams in the other), will be announced later this offseason.

Mononucleosis to sideline Kent State sophomore forward indefinitely

1 Comment

In his first season of play at Kent State, redshirt sophomore forward Jimmy Hall has been a key contributor for Rob Senderoff’s Golden Flashes. Averaging 15.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, Hall leads the team in both statistical categories.

Unfortunately for Kent State they’re going to be without Hall for a while, as it was announced Wednesday that he’s been diagnosed with mononucleosis. According to the school he’ll sit out for at least the next week before he’s reevaluated by doctors.

“Jimmy was playing at a (MAC) Player of the Year level, and we are obviously very disappointed for him that he is going to miss some games,” said KSU coach Rob Senderoff. “Right now the priority is Jimmy getting healthy and being back to help us as soon as possible. In the meantime, we are missing 30 minutes per night. All of our guys in the front court will be called on to step up.”

Without Hall, players such as Khaliq Spicer (5.8 rpg) and Chris Ortiz (3.8 rpg) will be asked to step up in the front court. Kent State, which saw its six-game win streak come to an end Friday night at Buffalo, is in the midst of a five-game stretch in which four of the games will be played on the road.

The Golden Flashes visit Western Michigan Wednesday night and will host Miami University Saturday night before playing road games at Akron and Toledo. Kent State and Akron are currently tied atop the MAC East standings at 6-2, with Buffalo and Bowling Green a game back at 5-3.